Yellowjackets: Perpetual Motion

Venerable quartet serves a mixture of the acoustic and the electric, the jazz and the funk, that characterises the modern-day Yellowjackets

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Yellowjackets have been making music since the 1970s, and like their numerous other albums, their latest release realises the originality, skilled musicianship and jazz prowess for which they are known.

A number of celebrated jazz and blues musicians have passed through the band’s ranks, including guitarist Robben Ford and bassist Jimmy Haslip, but several of its longest-serving members remain. Russell Ferrante and Bob Mintzer, on piano and saxophone respectively, are both still present and drummer Will Kennedy has been with the group since 2010 as well as featuring with it through the 90s.

Opening with Intrigue, the band creates a relaxed but purposeful atmosphere with complex piano, saxophone and bass unison lines over a steady groove. There is a long, intricate solo from the band’s newest member, bassist Dane Alderson, who has been with the group since 2015.

The title track is led by a spacious saxophone melody from Mintzer, propelled by Kennedy’s expert drums. Onyx Manor is the longest of the tracks, and hints at the fusion roots of the band through dark synths and angular saxophone, before the energy changes halfway with a funk twist.

The gentle If You Believe features guest vocalist Jean Baylor, who lends delicacy to the set. Closing the album is Early, with dissonant keyboard and synth phrases alongside the acoustic instruments, emphasising the quartet’s balance of the traditional and the modern.

Yellowjacket’s album is a captivating listen, with the band’s musicianship standing out across the tracks, and showing how their music has evolved over their extensive and celebrated career. 

Discography
Intrigue; Challenging Times; Parallel Motion; Onyx Manor; Samaritan; Il Mio Amico; Resilience; If You Believe; Early (56.00)
Russell Ferrante (p, kyb); Bob Mintzer (ts, ss, elec); Will Kennedy (d, kyb); Dane Alderson (elb, elec). Guesting: Jean Baylor (v). Los Angeles, 8-10 December 2021. 
Mack Avenue MAC1196